A representative of Clean Line Energy Partners returned to Hannibal Tuesday to again outline the proposed Grain Belt Express Clean Line project. And while the message was similar to the one delivered last month, the audience – members of the City Council – was different.
Mark Lawlor, Clean Line’s director of development, spoke on behalf of the project, which would feature a high voltage DC transmission line carrying wind energy from western Kansas into Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.
Lawlor detailed an assortment of benefits the project could provide the area, and specifically Hannibal, if eventually given the “green light” by the Missouri Public Service Commission (MPSC).
• Tax revenue. In its first year of operation Clean Line estimates it will pay a combined $5 million to the taxing districts hosting the project across the state, $811,000 in Ralls County alone.
• Jobs. Construction of the infrastructure will mean jobs to “many local workers,” said Lawlor.
• Providing renewable energy. As many companies aggressively seek to reduce their carbon footprint, Lawlor noted that the amount of wind energy the city is interested in purchasing – 25 megawatts – would allow some BPW industrial customers to go 100 percent “green.”
• Cheap energy. Green Line power could be supplied to Hannibal for as little as 3 cents per kilowatt hour (kwh), which is significantly less that current wholesale and retail rates. Currently, BPW residential customers are paying $0.09828 per kwh.
“Hannibal is uniquely positioned to benefit from this project, which can provide the city with energy cheaper than any other available source,” said Lawlor.
Unlike at the Jan. 19 Board of Public Works meeting, when a comparable presentation was made by Lawlor and Clean Line President Michael Skelly, there was no opportunity Tuesday night for public comments or questions. Instead Lawlor fielded an assortment of queries from Council members, ranging from if the proposed power lines will glow or hum (they wouldn’t), to the amount of jobs that will be available once a power delivery station is built near Center in Ralls County (a handful), to the reasons behind the MPSC’s July rejection of Clean Line’s request for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity.
Mayor Roy Hark expressed concern for “our neighbors to the south,” some of whom oppose the project.
Lawlor acknowledged that there is concern and opposition to land acquisition by the company in Ralls County. He said Clean Line is committed to “compensating landowners fairly,” adding that condemnation would only be pursued as a “last resort.”
Council members were to have heard Green Line’s presentation on Jan. 19 during a special meeting at the BPW’s headquarters. That meeting was cancelled, however, because it would have been in violation of the City Charter which requires the Council to meet only at City Hall.
No vote regarding the Grain Belt Express Clean Line project was taken by the City Council Tuesday night.
A special call meeting of the BPW has been called for 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, at the Board of Public Works Conference Center. According to the agenda, a portion of the meeting will be conducted in closed session to discuss “contracts.” Bob Stevenson, general manager of the BPW, declined to comment when asked if a contract with Clean Line will be up for consideration Thursday.
Reportedly Hannibal has been given the opportunity to purchase solely power from Clean Line, or “capacity rights,” which would give the BPW the freedom to utilize wind-generated power or sell it on the open market.
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